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The Changing Role and Status of Women in Britain

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History Coursework The Changing Role and Status of Women in Britain Since 1900 Roxanne Peak-Payne 1. Before 1900, women had generally stayed in the home. From the Middle Ages to 17th Century, they had been involved in cottage industries like making gloves. Early in the industrialisation period, women were sent down coalmines, because they cost less, but later on when rules and regulations were set over hours and safety, women were pushed back into the home because men could work harder for longer hours. Around the end of the 19th Century teaching, nursing and shop work became more common professions for women, and for those who were well-educated, clerical work. However, a woman still had to leave work when she married, and was paid considerably less than a male doing the same job. All through these periods, women still generally fulfilled the traditional role of housewife and mother, and often the much more degrading job of a prostitute. A woman's place in society was minor and they were treated as second-class citizens, and had nowhere near as many rights as the average male. Women didn't get the vote between 1900 and 1914 for many reasons. ...read more.


This time the government waited till they were on the verge of death, then sent them home only to be rearrested when the had recovered. During 1913, Mrs Pankhurst went in and out of prison 12 times. The heightened violent behaviour turned the public and many MP's against them and the WSPU lost all the support they had gained, and more. From a majority of 167 votes for women's suffrage to 48 against in just one year, the Suffragettes effectively reversed the support they had created. Their campaign was a failure because it reduced support amongst politicians and the public and it gave an excuse for opponents, like the government, to reject women's suffrage. The Liberal Party, who were in power while this was going on, were the ones who held the key to women's suffrage. When they swapped the Conciliation Bill for the Franchise Bill, it wasn't because of other parties or events, it was because they just changed their mind. The government did this because they were worried, if women got the vote, there was nothing to stop them voting the Liberal government out of power and vote in their own female candidates or woman-suffrage-friendly party. ...read more.


As well as providing for their families, they now became the head of the family and took on many new responsibilities including looking after their own finances. Women's clothing became simpler, less restrictive and more practical for their work. Make up became acceptable, and women were given more contraception advice so they could choose how many children they had. The Victorian image of women was crumbling and they were now being accepted as responsible, hard working, capable human beings. Women finally got the vote in 1918, but it was only for over 30's, which was disappointing, but still a huge improvement. The war had a vast impact on people's perception of women. Locally, every woman who got an unconventional job influenced others around her and changed their usual attitudes and feelings. Nationally, the changes that occurred when the Suffragettes adjusted their tactics to help their own cause and the war effort, affected the entire country by demonstrating that women were conscientious and reliable, and they did in fact deserve the right to vote. In the 1918 elections only seventeen women stood as candidates, and to this day there has only been one female Prime Minister. However, the Fist World War gave the chance, through work, to show their capabilities, and marked a turning point in the change of attitudes towards them. ...read more.

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